Author: Trinity Johns
4 Your Eyez Only
This year, North Carolina rapper J.Cole released his latest album ‘4 Your Eyez Only’. Amongst an incredible line up of songs lies the hidden gem ‘Neighbors’. The song showcases Cole’s experience with the police and the unjust stereotypes that are often placed on black men in white neighborhoods. The story behind the song begins with Cole’s purchase of a North Carolina home in a predominately white neighborhood. The house, nicknamed the “Sheltuh” was a place for Cole and other Dreamville artists to record. Furthermore, because most of the Dreamville artists are African American, the neighbors in the area began to feel suspicious that the group was growing or selling drugs out of the household. Because of the War on Drugs and the racial stereotypes that surrounds black men, J. Cole and his friends were assumed to be drug dealers simply because the narrative of the War on Drugs depicts minorities as such.
Cole’s neighbors had no idea that he was a double platinum recording artist who advocates for community build up and positivity; they simply saw his skin color and assumed he and his friends must be drug dealers. The perception of black men that these white individuals have been exposed to is filled with violence and drugs; they blindly follow this notion because it is what is most heavily publicized in the media. Eventually, J.Cole’s neighbors end up calling the police and voicing their suspicions. This call launched an estimated $1 million dollar investigation and eventually lead to the “Sheltuh” being raided by armed members of the SWAT team. Ultimately police discovered that no drugs were being sold or grown in the residence. Cole’s song emulates this event by stating:
“I can’t sleep cause I’m paranoid.
Black in a white man territory
Cops bust in the army guns
No evidence of the harm we done
Just a couple neighbors that assume we slang
Only time they see us we be on the news, in chains, damn.”
J.Cole frequently uses personal experiences as inspirations for in his songs and videos. This time, Cole used the actual security footage of the “Sheltuh’s” raid for the “Neighbors” music video. During the video you can see the police barge into the building. Most notably the officers turn the cameras away during the raid. Cole’s song “Neighbors” is 3:36 minutes long, however the footage available for the raid is only about 1:19 minutes due to the cameras being turned away by officers. Cole’s use of the video exposes the unjust behavior that has occurred against many African Americans and displays how stereotypes have continued to thrive as the years pass.
Please be sure to watch the video! I’ve also attached J.Cole’s “4 Your Eyez Only- a Dreamville film”; the film also contains the ‘Neighbors’ footage along with other songs on the album.
‘Neighbors’ video: https://youtu.be/9nfVWiXY3WY
Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only – a Dreamville film : https://youtu.be/6atNwE-uOfE